Michigan governor forms task force on COVID-19’s racial disparities

The work will be done in memory of 5-year-old Skylar Herbert, the youngest person to die from the virus in the state

Gretchen Whitmer speaks with a reporter after a Democrat Unity Rally at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

As Black Americans continue to be inundated with endless reports and statistics about how we are greatly impacted by the novel coronavirus, many “woke” minds are wondering if this is due to racial medical bias and negligence?

The concern has prompted Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to launch a Task Force on Racial Disparities to investigate the disproportionate number of Black folks infected with/and dying from the COVID-19, NBC News reports.

READ MORE: COVID-19 hitting Black people hard? Too bad, get back to the plantation

“The deep inequities people in communities of color face, like basic lack of access to health care or transportation or protections in the workplace, have made them more susceptible to COVID-19,” Whitmer said at a news conference.

Whitmer’s executive order announcing the task force cited data showing that more than 40 percent of the COVID-19-related deaths in Michigan were Blacks, despite African American residents making up only 14 percent of the state’s population.

The executive order also outlined who will serve on the Task Force, as well its priorities in addressing the way COVID-19 has greatly impacted and killed Black Americans in the state.

The task force will be led by the state’s lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist, and consist of government officials, health professionals, and community leaders.

Skylar Herbert theGrio.com

A 5-year-old girl from Detroit named Skylar Herbert died on Sunday of a rare complication from COVID-19 (Facebook)

Whitmer said during a news conference Monday, “We’ve seen heartbreaking stories come out of Detroit. Many who have lost their parents, and children, and friends and neighbors. Michiganders need leaders who are going to do everything they can to lower their risk of catching this virus, no matter their community, their race, or socioeconomic status.”

Gilchrist said the task force will devote its work to the memory of the youngest person in the state to die from the virus so far, 5-year-old Skylar Herbert.

READ MORE: Detroit bus driver who warned against dangers of coronavirus dies

According to the Detroit Free Press, the task force will also be charged with:

  • Increasing transparency in reporting data regarding the racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19.
  • Removing barriers to accessing physical and mental health care.
  • Reducing the impact of medical bias in testing and treatment.
  • Mitigating environmental and infrastructure factors contributing to increased exposure during pandemics resulting in mortality.
  • Developing and improving systems for supporting long-term economic recovery and physical and mental health care following a pandemic.

This task force is one step on many that will help the nation gain a better understanding of the coronavirus, health care, and race.

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